December 12, 2005, 4:26 PM — Virtualization software vendor VMware Inc. released its VMware Player Monday. The free product enables users to run, assess and share software in a virtual machine on a PC running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system or Linux. VMware also announced it has partnered with Mozilla Corp. on another free product, Browser Appliance, a virtual machine powered by Mozilla's Firefox Web browser.
Both moves are part of VMware's ongoing efforts to proliferate use of its software as well as building more of a user community and third-party vendor community around its virtualization offerings.
VMware defines a virtual machine as a virtualized x86 PC environment where a guest 32-bit or 64-bit operating system and its related applications can run separately from the user's other desktop software. Multiple virtual machines can run on the same host machine simultaneously.
Users may choose to run software within a virtual machine for a variety of reasons, notably for security. For instance, by isolating Web browsing, users can protect against possible malware intrusions as well as safeguard their personal information, including passwords and account numbers, according to a VMware release. With the Browser Appliance, users can choose to configure the software so it automatically resets itself after every Web browsing session so that personal data is never permanently stored online.
Focused on x86 server virtualization, VMware is an independent subsidiary of storage vendor EMC Corp. A spin-off of the open-source Mozilla Foundation, Mozilla Corp. watches over the development and release of Firefox and the Mozilla e-mail client Thunderbird.
VMware plans to release a more extensible and customizable version of its VMware Player aimed at developers early next year, according to the release. Google Inc. has been working with VMware on integrating its search capabilities into VMware Player so that users can search the Web inside a virtual machine. VMware will allow some third-party companies to redistribute its Player, the release stated.
VMware first made VMware Player available as a beta download at the end of October.
VMware will shortly make both VMware Player and Browser Appliance available for download from http://www.vmware.com/products/player/. Currently, only beta versions of those products are highlighted on that page.